Tanzania’s economy expanded 5.2% in 2018, the World Bank said, the second major report this year from a multilateral financial institution contradicting rosier government figures.
Tanzania’s finance minister had told parliament last month that growth was 7% last year
In a report, the World Bank, which makes its calculations based on state data, also forecast 2019 growth at 5.4% – again lower than the government’s estimate of 7.1%.
Last year’s growth was affected by a decline in investment, exports and private lending, the report said.
“Data related to consumption, investment and net trade suggest that growth softened in 2018,” it said.
President John Magufuli embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialisation after coming to power in 2015, investing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including a new rail line, reviving the national carrier and a hydropower plant.
But government interventions in mining and agriculture have led to declining investment in east Africa’s third largest economy. Foreign direct investment has more than halved since 2013, while private sector lending growth plummeted to less than 4% in 2018, far below the 20% average between 2013-16.
The World Bank report follows an unpublished International Monetary Fund (IMF) report in April that also raised questions over Magufuli’s handling of the economy.
A leaked version of the report, seen by Reuters, accused the government of undermining the economy with “unpredictable and interventionist” policies, saying medium-term growth would be around 4-5 percent, again below official forecasts.
In its report, the World Bank said investment growth was subdued partly because of government struggles to meet spending targets in development projects. The economy could grow to 6% by 2021 “with a modest improvement of the business climate and a pick-up in [foreign direct investment] and other private investment,” the bank said.
Other economic indicators also point to a slowing economy.
The current account deficit widened to 5.2% percent of GDP in the year ending January 2019, up from 3.2% a year earlier, the bank said. The value of exports dropped nearly 4% last year, partly because the government banned cashew exports, a major foreign exchange earner, due to low prices.
On the other hand, the construction of the standard gauge railway and expansion of Dar es Salaam port helped drive up the value of imports by 7.8%, the World Bank said. The government should minimise economic risk by improving the business environment and fiscal management, it recommended.
Globally, Tanzania is also vulnerable to weaker demand, tighter financing conditions, and higher international energy prices, it said.
African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
After four years of talks, an agreement to form a 55-nation trade bloc was reached in March, paving the way for African Union summit in Niger where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.
It is hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) - the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994 - will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.
“The eyes of the world are turned towards Africa,” Egyptian President and African Union Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at the summit’s opening ceremony.
“The success of the AfCFTA will be the real test to achieve the economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into a reality,” he said.
Africa has much catching up to do: its intra-regional trade accounted for just 17% of exports in 2017 versus 59% in Asia and 69% in Europe, and Africa has missed out on the economic booms that other trade blocs have experienced in recent decades.
Economists say significant challenges remain, including poor road and rail links, large areas of unrest, excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption that have held back growth and integration.
Members have committed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, which will increase trade in the region by 15-25% in the medium term, but this would more than double if these other issues were dealt with, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.
The IMF in a May report described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America, but it added a note of caution.
“Reducing tariffs alone is not sufficient,” it said.
Africa already has an alphabet soup of competing and overlapping trade zones - ECOWAS in the west, EAC in the east, SADC in the south and COMESA in the east and south.
But only the EAC, driven mainly by Kenya, has made significant progress toward a common market in goods and services.
These regional economic communities (REC) will continue to trade among themselves as they do now. The role of AfCFTA is to liberalize trade among those member states that are not currently in the same REC, said Trudi Hartzenberg, director at Tralac, a South Africa-based trade law organization.
The zone’s potential clout received a boost on Tuesday when Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, agreed to sign the agreement at the summit. Benin has also since agreed to join. Fifty-four of the continent’s 55 states have now signed up, but only about half of these have ratified.
One obstacle in negotiations will be the countries’ conflicting motives.
For undiversified but relatively developed economies like Nigeria, which relies heavily on oil exports, the benefits of membership will likely be smaller than others, said John Ashbourne, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.
Nigerian officials have expressed concern that the country could be flooded with low-priced goods, confounding efforts to encourage moribund local manufacturing and expand farming.
In contrast, South Africa’s manufacturers, which are among the most developed in Africa, could quickly expand outside their usual export markets and into West and North Africa, giving them an advantage over manufacturers from other countries, Ashbourne said.
The presidents of both countries attended the summit.
The vast difference in countries’ economic heft is another complicating factor in negotiations. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa account for over 50% of Africa’s cumulative GDP, while its six sovereign island nations represent about 1%.
“It will be important to address those disparities to ensure that special and differential treatments for the least developed countries are adopted and successfully implemented,” said Landry Signe, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative.
The summit also saw the launch of a digital payments system for the zone and instruments that will govern rules of origin and tariff concessions, as well as monitor and seek to eliminate non-tariff obstacles to trade, the African Union said.
Barely heard of in Britain until it launched a spree of Premier League club sponsorships in 2016, the online gambling platform SportPesa has since spread its name across football, rugby, horseracing and Formula One, associating its branding with good works in Africa.
At Everton, where SportPesa is the main sponsor, its name is prominent all over Goodison Park, the club have been in Kenya for a pre-season tour, and they promote SportPesa’s "Kits for Africa" initiative, with a donation bin in the club store.
Everton’s chief executive, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, wrote in the club’s annual report: "We value our developing relationship with SportPesa, who have demonstrated a strong alignment with our values." A spokesperson for Everton, who describe themselves as "the people’s club", said Barrett-Baxendale was referring to the sponsor’s support for the club’s extensive community work, which she herself pioneered in the deprived areas around Goodison Park.
Founded in Nairobi as a partnership of wealthy, politically influential Kenyans with Bulgarian investors, SportPesa mined its huge fortune exploiting an online gambling craze in the country. Interior minister Fred Matiang’i warned recently of rising addiction and suicides, adding that gambling will "destroy the moral fabric" without strengthened regulation.
In the UK, while SportPesa has promoted its brand through the Everton sponsorship and partnerships with Arsenal, Southampton and Hull City, it makes use of the "white label" system, allied to a company, TGP Europe, registered offshore in the Isle of Man, a tax haven.
This structure, permitted by the UK government, means SportPesa does not require a licence from the Gambling Commission, UK bets are paid to the Isle of Man, and no SportPesa company appears to pay UK corporation tax on those revenues, nor contribute to UK gambling welfare programmes.
Campaign groups including Gambling with Lives have criticised the English football establishment for selling its appeal so enormously to gambling, with many Premier League and Football League clubs – and the EFL divisions themselves – sponsored by betting companies, and concerns are escalating about problem gambling and the game’s "gamblification".
SportPesa grew rapidly in Kenya to dominate online gambling by zealously exploiting the mass arrival of mobile phone technology from 2014, and sponsors the country’s Premier League. With little regulation and no welfare or research similar to even the UK’s limited industry-funded framework, serious problem gambling appears to have become entrenched among the young people, who are gambling and losing far more than elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Matiang’i, finally proposing new regulation in May, said $2 billion (Sh200 billion) was gambled annually in Kenya, mostly by low earners, and that 500,000 young people defaulted on loans to fund gambling. Last week SportPesa was among a number of gambling companies whose licences were suspended because of reported concerns about non-compliance with regulations, although SportPesa said it did comply and is continuing to operate because of a court order.
Ivaylo Bozoukov, SportPesa’s director of global strategy, told the Guardian that SportPesa’s expansion into the UK, which includes offices in Liverpool’s Liver building where Everton are also based, was funded by the profits made in Africa. Well-placed sources have told the investigative website Finance Uncovered that SportPesa made more than $1 billion (Sh100 billion) revenues last year in Kenya, but the company does not make its revenues or profits, in Africa or the UK, public.
A spokesperson described that figure as "a very significant overstatement" and said: "As is common with private companies, we have made a commercial decision not to publish our revenues in order to protect our competitiveness."
SportPesa does have a UK-registered company, SportPesa Global Holdings, formed in March 2017, which does declare its shareholders and accounts, but the brand’s structure means that its UK gambling revenues do not appear to be received by that company.
The holding company’s largest Bulgarian shareholder, Mr Guerassim Nikolov, a casino owner, moved to Nairobi in 1999 from Sofia, where he operated a casino, and he founded SportPesa in 2014.
Described as the group chief executive, Nikolov wholly denies claims made in Bulgarian media in 2006 that he left the country after being questioned by police in relation to an alleged criminal incident.
Asked by the Guardian about these claims, a SportPesa spokesperson said: "Mr Nikolov vehemently denies the allegations contained within the stories you have highlighted to us and we strongly urge you to treat any claims – most of which are made in personal blogs and by anonymous sources – with extreme scepticism.
"Mr Nikolov has non-operating interests in casinos [i.e. he is not involved in the day-to-day running of them]. Mr Nikolov has passed the know-your-client checks of regulators in several jurisdictions including some of the most rigorous authorities around the world."
Mr Nikolov and other Bulgarian investors are said to have provided the gambling and digital technology expertise in the partnership that founded SportPesa.
The largest Kenyan shareholder is Ms Asenath Wacera, whose late husband, Mr Dickson Wathika, was the mayor of Nairobi and a long-term friend of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Mr Paul Wanderi Ndung’u, another major shareholder, is a prominent entrepreneur in Kenya, having invested early in mobile telecommunications, and he is a major financier and fundraiser for Jubilee party.
In June 2017, President Kenyatta reversed a pledge for a 35 per cent tax on gambling to fund sport, arts and universal healthcare after relentless lobbying by SportPesa and other gambling companies.
Instead, after his November 2017 re-election, the president introduced a 15 per cent rate, while imposing a 20 per cent tax on individual gamblers’ winnings, explaining this was "in order to enhance equity and fairness".
President Kenyatta’s spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry from the Guardian about whether the lobbying from SportPesa or the gambling industry had an impact on his change of stance.
SportPesa responded by saying: "Our growth is attributable to outstanding customer experience and we refute any suggestion that the company has sought advantage through political connections."
SportPesa’s use of the UK’s "white label" system, in common with many overseas-owned gambling companies including several more Premier League sponsors, is noted in small print at the bottom of its alluring UK website.
"SportPesa is powered by TGP Europe Ltd of … Douglas, Isle of Man," it notes. "TGP Europe Ltd is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain for provision of services to the United Kingdom."
The system means TGP Europe provides the actual gambling operations for SportPesa and other companies marketing themselves in the UK. The money supporters of Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, Hull City and other British people bet through SportPesa’s app and website appears to be actually paid to TGP Europe in the Isle of Man.
SportPesa, as a non-licensed company, also has no responsibility to contribute to GambleAware, the UK industry-funded organisation providing welfare and education about problem gambling.
A voluntary code is applied by companies to donate 0.1 per cent of their gross gambling yield, but GambleAware’s list of 2018-19 donors revealed that TGP Europe contributed only £100.
The SportPesa spokesperson said of this minimal contribution: "We share your concerns about this and raised the issue with TGP directly. As a result, they have now agreed to increase their annual contribution to GambleAware to £10,000."
Isle of Man-registered companies do not pay UK tax or publish financial accounts, so there is no available record of how much money TGP or SportPesa are making from their expanding UK gambling operations.
The owners of TGP Holdings are listed as three Isle of Man trusts and one trust based in the British Virgin Islands, another tax haven.
There is no public information about who the beneficiaries are of these trusts.
TGP Europe did not respond at all to questions about the structure of its operation, the revenues from SportPesa and whether any UK corporation tax is paid.
In its statement, SportPesa did not respond to questions about the company’s UK revenues or whether UK tax is paid on them.
Its spokesperson said: “We are a socially responsible business that puts tremendous emphasis on grassroots sport and community development. We are fully compliant with all UK and international legal requirements and, as a company that operates in highly regulated markets, we take our responsibilities extremely seriously.”
In response to the wider question of how renowned English football clubs decide to partner their names so wholeheartedly with gambling companies, particularly where brands are linked offshore and their finances are not publicly transparent, none of the clubs would explain their decision-making process.
Hull City declined to comment, as did Southampton, whose three-year partnership with SportPesa ended last season.
An Everton spokesperson said in a statement: "As with all our partnership agreements, a due diligence process was carried out both by the club and external advisers. Through this, we obtained the assurances we needed in order to proceed with a partnership with SportPesa."
A spokesperson for Arsenal, whose partnership with SportPesa finished in May, said: "We do not discuss the details of any of our commercial partnerships, but would point out that we conduct due diligence checks via third-party organisations where appropriate before entering into agreements."
This story was first published by The Guardian
Google and its operations in China have come under the spotlight in the past few days.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel last week accused the U.S. technology giant of working with the Chinese military and called for the U.S. government to investigate Google. In response, President Donald Trump said his administration will “take a look” into Google.
The tech giant has denied working with the Chinese military.
Still, the controversy has sparked interest in what Google is doing in China. CNBC took a closer look at Google’s business dealings in China.
Google ended its search product in China in 2010 and is effectively blocked in the country. However, a report emerged last year that the search giant was looking to launch a censored version of its search app in China. The initiative, which the company acknowledged publicly, was in its early stages. In China, all internet services are required to censor information which the government deems sensitive.
However, Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy at the company, Karan Bhatia, said this week that Google had abandoned plans for “Project Dragonfly,” the name of its China search product initiative.
So right now, Google is still blocked in China and can only be accessed via a virtual private network (VPN), which helps mask a user’s internet location.
One of Thiel’s accusations is that Chinese spies have infiltrated Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, but he did not provide any evidence.
Google does have AI projects in China though. In 2017, the company opened up an AI research center in China.
On its website, Google says AI research in China is focused on education and so-called natural language understanding — which refers to an AI technique focused on getting machines to understand human language. Google is looking to apply AI to auctioning so that the bidding process for ads can be more efficient. This could be important for Google, which operates an advertising marketplace.
In China, the work is also contributing to AI products that Google makes available globally, such as TensorFlow. This is an open source library that can help other companies develop AI products.
Technology giants such as Alibaba and Tencent dominate the cloud market in China. So Google’s tactic is to try to sell its cloud products to Chinese firms that have international operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
A search of Google job postings in China showed the company is looking for cloud computing engineers, data managers, sales and business development roles across Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The company is also hiring people to target customers in specific industries — from media and entertainment to manufacturing.
Google sells a number of hardware products including smartphones, smart speakers and thermostats, under the Nest brand that it owns. Some of that is manufactured in China.
The company is currently advertising roles for engineers to test products and for manufacturing and supply chain managers. On LinkedIn, a number of Google employees in Shenzhen, a key technology hub in China, listed their jobs as hardware-related.
However, Bloomberg reported in June that Google was moving the production of some Nest thermostats and server hardware out of China to avoid tariffs from the U.S.
App developers and the Google Play Store
The Google Play Store, the company’s app store, is blocked in China. So Google is trying to work with app developers in China to help them bring their products onto the Play Store in international markets.
Under its job listings, Google advertised for two roles for a business development manager related to the play store.
“As a Business Development Manager of Google Play, you will empower developers to build successful businesses on Play/Android globally, and inspire the ecosystem to innovate on/invest in Android and Play,” the job description reads.
Google also has individual roles for the gaming section of the Google Play store. Games are a huge part of its app store.
Advertising is a core part of Google’s revenue but because its services are blocked in China, it can’t really sell ads on those platforms there. So the company focuses on Chinese businesses looking to advertise on Google platforms abroad, whether that is on its search engine, YouTube or something else.
One job that’s being advertised is for a business development consultant in Shanghai who will be “responsible for driving business growth and attracting new medium to large size advertisers for Google.” There are also people focused on getting advertisers from specific industries like retail or entertainment.
Overall, Google’s business in China is mostly aimed at getting Chinese companies to use its products outside of China.
Credit: CNBC AFRICA
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has said that President Cyril Ramaphosa deliberately deceived Parliament with regard to a R500,000 donation from Bosasa to fund his African National Congress election campaign, Eyewitness News reports.
Mkhwebane said that Ramaphosa breached the Executive Ethics Code by failing to disclose financial interest accrued to him as a result of the donations received for the CR17 campaign, writes News24.
Mkhwebane also found that the means through which the R500,000 donation were funneled - transferred through several accounts before being paid into the president's campaign account - raised suspicion of money laundering, saying: "The allegation that there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on the one side, and the company African Global Operations (AGO/Bosasa) on the other side, due to the nature of the R500,000 payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, this raising suspicion of money laundering, has merit."
Mkhwebane referred the allegations of money laundering to authorities to investigate. Previously, Bejani Chauke, former CR17 Campaign Manager, said in a statement that there was "no basis whatsoever for even a suspicion of money laundering". Chauke's statement posted on The Mail & Guardian elaborated: "The CR17 campaign was funded by a broad range of individuals from across South Africa who supported the objectives of the campaign. These funds were paid into accounts established for this purpose and were used to cover the costs of the campaign such as stipends, travelling, communications and promotional material, meeting venues and accommodation. In the process, all legal and regulatory requirements were met."
Mkhwebane's statements come after Ramaphosa said that he was "willing and able" to appear before the Zondo Commission into state capture.
Scientists discovered how a chemical compound found in red wine and dark chocolate could help to rejuvenate old cells in the laboratory, making them not only look younger, but start to behave more like young cells.
Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Brighton have discovered how a chemical compound, found in red wine and dark chocolate, could help to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells, slowing down the ageing process.
The team successfully applied compounds based on chemicals naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries to cells in the laboratory.
Within hours of treatment with these so-called reversatrol analogues, the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres.
The study was based around the knowledge that when normal people age, the strands of DNA in cells gradually lose the protective telomeres that act a little like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. The result is that cells become progressively less able to repair themselves.
The team at Exeter University was led by Professor Lorna Harries, professor of molecular genetics, and supported by researchers at Brighton University.
The study builds on earlier findings which showed that a class of genes called splicing factors are progressively switched off as we age.
Professor Harries said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.
“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
It was like magic
Dr Eva Latorre, research associate at the University of Exeter, who carried out the experiments, was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells.
She said: “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic. I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated.”
The discoveries have the potential to lead to therapies which could help people age better, without experiencing some of the degenerative effects of getting old.
Professor Richard Faragher from the University of Brighton said: “At a time when our capacity to translate new knowledge about the mechanisms of ageing into medicines and lifestyle advice is limited only by a chronic shortage of funds, older people are ill-served by self-indulgent science fiction.”
The research Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence, was published in the journal BMC Cell Biology.
In the 2018-19 agricultural campaign, Mozambique lost over 40,000 hectares of cultivated land because of the abuse of pesticides in the attempt to control insect pests.
Interviewed by the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Aderito Lazaro of the Plant Health Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, said “the use of chemicals should be a last resort. However, at the first sign of a pest, the producers grab their pesticides, and one of the mistakes is that they use the same substance repeatedly. They should rotate”.
Lazaro cited the case of Boane district, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, where farmers had doubled the amount of pesticides used per week – without getting rid of the pests damaging the maize crop. Insects are showing signs of resistance to pesticides throughout the country.
The Agriculture Ministry, in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has publicised methods to handle pests through an integrated range of measures, including not only conventional insecticides, but also biological pesticides and improved seeds.
Meanwhile, a new pest is threatening banana growers in Chokwe district, in the Limpopo valley. This is the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). To prevent the spread of the virus the authorities are destroying infected banana trees in several plantations.
“This virus is lethal, and regardless of whether we cut the trees down or not, they will die”, said Celso Rufasse, coordinator of the BBTV project, cited by the independent daily “O Pais”.
“If we don’t cut the trees down, there will be a greater dispersal of the disease”, he continued. “The goal is to avoid the spread of the virus, so that we can eradicate the disease”.
Destroying the infected plants began a month ago, and so far almost 30,000 banana trees have been cut down in Chokwe. There is ban in place on the movement of bananas from Chokwe to elsewhere in the country.
The elimination of infected plants is budgeted at 20 million meticais (about 323,000 US dollars), and this task is receiving assistance from South Africa and the United States.
The virus is transmitted to plant by banana aphids. The virus damages the cells of the host plant, and usually prevents it from producing fruit. Any fruit that is produced is likely to be deformed.
Since there are no varieties of banana that are resistant to the virus, the only ways to eliminate the disease are to control the aphids, or to remove and destroy infected plants before the virus spreads.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde announced on Tuesday she had submitted her resignation from the global lender, saying she had more clarity about her nomination to be the next head of the European Central Bank.
Lagarde said in a statement her resignation was effective Sept. 12, opening the way for the IMF to launch the search for her successor, which is likely to be another European.
“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund,” Lagarde said in a statement.
She said her resignation would expedite the selection for the next head of the IMF.
Lagarde’s resignation comes two weeks after her nomination on July 2 for the ECB’s top job. She did not immediately resign from the IMF because of uncertainty over whether the new European Parliament would support her and other new EU leadership positions, sources told Reuters.
While a vote from the European Parliament is needed, its outcome is not binding, and Lagarde’s appointment will be finalized by EU leaders at a regular summit on October 17-18
Lagarde’s decision to resign comes on the eve of a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers in Chantilly, France.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is slated to meet with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney – one of the leading candidates to replace Lagarde – on Wednesday evening on the sidelines of the meeting.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow last week declined to comment when asked about Carney as a possible replacement for Lagarde.
Other names being floated include Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn, as well as Germany’s Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, and ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure.
Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian national who is currently chief executive officer of the World Bank, has been seen as having an outside chance, according to IMF sources.
A former French finance minister, Lagarde was the first woman to head the IMF and was known among policymakers as a tough negotiator. She was a tireless advocate for the benefits of trade, global growth that aids the poor and middle classes, and the empowerment of women.
Her second five-year term as head of the IMF was not due to end until July 2021. Traditionally, the post has always been held by a European, while the head of the IMF’s sister organization, the World Bank, has always been an American since the institutions were created at the end of World War Two.
If approved, Lagarde would take over as ECB president from Mario Draghi on Oct. 31. While her confirmation could be lengthy, it is likely to be largely a formality as long as the euro zone’s biggest member states - Germany, France and Italy - are in unity.
Her immediate challenge at the ECB would be to overcome her shortcomings in monetary policy-making, especially as it seeks to rearm for a potential new slump after years of using unconventional policy tools to stimulate inflation and growth.